Well, my last final is finished.
I have officially completed my academic, undergraduate life at Boston College. It’s weird to see typed out. Just last week I was going through my usual pre-finals stress of putting together study groups, taking care of the reading I had neglected, calculating how much meal plan money I have left and trying to figure out if I need to go a full day on just the free coffee. I’m confident you’re all familiar. But now, I’m just sitting in my house and all of that is finished. Forever. It’s hard to fathom, and as much as I’m looking forward to never writing another paper on John Locke’s Second Treatise again, at least until law school (hopefully), this is the epitome of a bittersweet moment. I’ve been ready to move past academic life for some time. I’m not ready to leave BC.
I suppose this should mostly be a reflection about the Gavel and the fantastic times I’ve had writing and editing for it, but this is my article so I’ll write whatever the hell I want.
I will say this about the Gavel, though: my freshman year it was a shitty, awful, once-a-month newspaper that was more fit to be used for paper mache than to be actually, you know, read.
In four short years it’s evolved into a massive media source that puts out new online media every day, writes amazing print article for our monthly print edition, and has championed the BC student voice through Authentic Eagles. As I leave, I know this organization is in good hands. There are so many talented writers, editors, designers, etc. that it seems like it’s actually going to be sticking around for quite some time.
That’s pretty freaking cool, especially considering it barely survived its first two years of existence. I joined the Gavel because it was the only group my freshman year that actually accepted my application. I never, ever dreamed it would give me back so much.
So that’s my little Gavel spiel, and I think here is where the “reflection” part of this reflection is going to happen.
I think I’ve had sortof a weird BC experience, in that when I look back there are actually many, many things I wish I could’ve done differently. Now I’m not saying I wasted any of my time here-- that couldn’t be farther from the truth--but it is a little bit of a shame that right when I felt like I was getting the hang of this college thing they’re kicking me out in a week. Like I said, bittersweet at best. So, in the interest of educating the younger BC classes to enhance their college experience, here is some advice I wish that I had been given before each year at BC.
To the incoming freshmen:
First impressions are important, but don’t let them dictate your feelings towards people, places, or things in your first year at BC. Always, always, always keep an open mind towards everyone and everything.
DO NOT try to schedule your classes the same way you did in high school. Having a 9 AM class every day seems fine because “hey, I did in high school no problem.” Yeah, you will be getting to sleep much, much later in college. Prepare yourself for that.
Textbooks should always be checked on Amazon.com before purchase. Save yourself a little bit of money.
In my opinion, the clubs and activities fair is the most important day freshmen year. Go to it, and sign up for anything at all you might be interested in. A Cappella auditions? Go for it. Rugby team? Live your dream. BC radio or TV? Be a star. Sketch comedy group? Seriously, try it out. Write for the Gavel? I’d certainly advise it. Sign up for anything, and everything. You never, never know how much one of those groups may affect the rest of your four years. The people you awkwardly make small talk to may become your mentors, best friends, and the people who change your life.
Go to football games, and get there on time.
Go to hockey games, but please, tone down on the profanity, you go to BC, you are more intelligent than “Suck my d*ck BU!!! Yeah!” (Yes, I’m looking at you class of 2017)
Newton is not the end of the world. Newton is actually pretty great.
The most important thing I can tell you--the one thing I wish someone had told me, is: don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.
See an open door on your hall? Walk in, introduce yourself, and don’t be afraid to be make friends.
Go on 48 Hours. Sign up for Kairos.
You are about to embark on a journey that changes lives. I think I speak for most, if not all of my class, when I say that I am a completely different person than I was four years ago. Your perspectives will be changed. You will experience unbelievable things. I climbed Mt. Olympus in Greece, and I’m not even sure that cracks the top 5 things I did at BC. Be excited, work hard, and enjoy every second of it. It goes faster than you think.
To the rising sophomores:
Believe me when I tell you that sophomore year flies by. I think I blinked and it was over. Prepare yourself for that.
Sophomore year is honestly awesome. You will be living with your best friends from freshman year, if you didn’t have a great living situation your first year at BC, that will change for the better immensely. Yes, even if you live on CoRo.
Make sure to stop every once in awhile and think, reflect, and take a deep breath.
This was a remnant of my sophomore year, but prepare yourself for snow in October. I know these things don’t transfer perfectly, but it snowed on Halloween my sophomore year. Just saying.
This is the year many of you will probably figure out that, perhaps, the major you initially thought you were going to do in college isn’t quite working out
*cough* pre-med *cough*
That’s alright. By now you’ve gone through most of the core, you know which classes you’ve liked, which you didn’t. My advice? Pick up one major you like, and one major that might get you a job.
Again, since this is the year most of you will step out of the shadow of the core, this is something I cannot stress enough. Take classes for the teacher, not for the class. PEPS are your friend. Use them. The difference between a long semester with a professor you don’t care for and one with a professor you become friends with is so unbelievably huge.
Along the same line, get to know your professors. This is something I took way too long to pick up on, but professors, for the most part, are pretty cool people. They know a lot, they have a ton of great advice, so stop by their office hours, introduce yourself, talk about the class, and just talk about life. They’ll love it, and so will you.
Seriously, seriously, seriously, LOOK INTO STUDY ABROAD. Actually, you know what, don’t look into it. Just STUDY ABROAD. I cannot stress this enough. It was the best decision of my life to go to Greece, even though I did not speak the language initially or really know much about the city I was going to. If a program looks cool to you, look into it. Studying abroad is a life altering experience without a doubt. And, also, and just take this with a grain of salt, but it will probably be the easiest semester class-wise in college. Which is nice, because you’ll be pretty free to do some awesome stuff instead of writing papers or studying.
Oh, and if you’re going to live off-campus for junior year, get on that pretty early. Don’t put it off till second semester. Do it in September. Otherwise you’ll be living in a cramped apartment that was noted for its “character.” Trust me on this.
To the rising juniors:
If you thought sophomore year was fast, be prepared for a thrill ride junior year.
I think most of the advice I would give to juniors is more practical, rather than ideological.
For example, this will be the year that most of you turn 21. A couple thoughts on that. If you turn 21, be prepared to have a crazy-ass night that you absolutely will not remember. A brief snippit from my 21st, at midnight I was given a class of opaque, light blue liquid, which was then set on fire, and I was made to drink it with a straw that was 2 feet long. I don’t remember a single thing that happened after that. If your friend is turning 21, it is your job to ensure that they a) make it home safe, b) don’t embarrass themselves (too much), and c) don’t do anything that would jeopardize their health, safety, or general well-being.
I know it sounds like I’m patronizing. I’m not. It’s cool to be the guy to buy your friend three shots on their 21st, it’s not so cool to be the guy that loses them or has to escort them to the hospital.
Focus on finishing as much of your majors as you possibly can. You’ll want to give yourself some empty class slots so you can take the classes you really want to take during your senior year.
Having a Mod is cool, having a friend who has a Mod is much cooler. Just my opinion. Unless you love the power trip from kicking out freshman, in which case follow your heart.
If you live off-campus near actual people, not just college neighbors, befriend your neighbors and be respectful. Otherwise, you’ll end up having your neighbor calling the cops on your house because you and your roommates were too loud playing MarioCart at 8 p.m. Yes, that happened.
Whatever you do, do NOT try a long distance relationship abroad. It. Will. Not. Work.
Maybe I should rephrase. It might work, maybe, if you get super, super lucky, and the circumstances are just right, then maybe. But I wouldn’t risk it. I refer you to my study abroad case study: 15 couples going into the semester, two couples going out. And those two couples were ones that met and got together while abroad.
Also, this is really the last year you have before things get serious. Senior year you’ll be applying to grad school, looking for jobs, just trying to enjoy your time. You don’t really have to worry about all that extra-curricular stuff junior year, and you should certainly revel in that.
To the rising seniors:
Live in the moment.
Keep things in perspective.
See a BC play at Robsham.
Tailgate your face off.
Develop some culinary skills.
Win an intramural mug.
Get Chipotle only an appropriate number of times. (Once a day is appropriate, right?)
Spend as much time with your friends as you can. After this year, you might not know when you’ll see them again.
Go to as many performances of student organizations as you can.
Enjoy every second you have until Commencement.
It goes by faster than you think.